Well-mannered Medicine: Medical Ethics and Etiquette in Classical Ayurveda

ISBN : 9780199859962

Dagmar Wujastyk
264 Pages
159 x 234 mm
Pub date
Aug 2012
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Dagmar Wujastyk explores the moral discourses on the practice of medicine in the foundational texts of Ayurveda. The classical ayurvedic treatises were composed in Sanskrit between the first and the fifth centuries CE, and the later works, dating into the sixteenth century CE, were still considered strongly authoritative. As Wujastyk shows, these works testify to an elaborate system of medical ethics and etiquette. Physicians looked to the ayurvedic treatises for a guide to professional conduct. Ayurvedic discourses on good medical practice depict the physician as highly-educated, skilled, moral, and well-mannered. The rules of conduct positioned physicians within mainstream society's and characterized medical practice as a trustworthy and socially acceptable profession. At the same time, professional success was largely based on a particular physician's ability to cure his patients. This resulted in tension, as some treatments and medications were considered socially or religiously unacceptable. Doctors needed to treat their patients successfully while ostensibly following the rules of acceptable behavior. Wujastyk offers insight into the many unorthodox methods of avoiding conflict while ensuring patient compliance shown in the ayurvedic treatises, giving a disarmingly candid perspective on the realities of medical practice and its crucial role in a profoundly well-mannered society.


1 The pillars of treatment
2 On becoming a physician
3 On continued learning and interaction with peers
4 To care or not to care
5 The rewards of medical practice
6 Veracity in the doctor-patient relationship
7 Ethical elisions
8 Concluding reflections
A Sanskrit text passages: The pillars of treatment
B Sanskrit text passages: On becoming a physician
C Sanskrit text passages: On continued learning and interaction with peers
D Sanskrit text passages: To care or not to care
E Sanskrit text passages: The rewards of medical practice
F Sanskrit text passages: Veracity in the doctor-patient relationship

About the author: 

PhD in Indology 2010, Bonn University

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